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Volume 23 No. 17
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Game-day losses grow: $6B revenue, 116M fans

The coronavirus-related postponements and cancellations of games and events so far this year in the United States and Canada has caused the loss of more than $6 billion in potential game-day revenue and affected more than 116 million possible attendees, according to published information and available data analyzed by Sports Business Journal. Lost revenue for non-game-day events such as concerts accounts for nearly $1 billion more.


SBJ’s comprehensive study reviewed the recent attendance patterns of MLB (including spring training), affiliated and independent minor league baseball and developmental circuits such as the Cape Cod League; the NBA, WNBA and G League; NHL and minor league hockey; MLS, NWSL and USLC; XFL and indoor football leagues; the National Lacrosse League; and the NCAA men’s and women’s national basketball and hockey tournaments. Those properties have announced postponements or cancellations for a combined total of 19,044 games.

For game-day spending estimates at venues, the disruption of league seasons with available published data — the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, XFL and Minor League Baseball — affected approximately $6.07 billion in potential ticket and other game-day sales (concessions and merchandise), according to SBJ’s analysis of the most recent data available from Team Marketing Report’s annual Fan Cost Index and team and league sources.

More than 80% of the lost games came at the expense of organized baseball — encompassing MLB and spring training, Minor League Baseball, independent leagues and collegiate summer leagues — as the sport absorbed more 70% of the revenue losses tracked in the study.

There was no segment left unaffected: major league venues in Los Angeles will lose more than $549 million; naming-rights partners lost out on exposure on nearly 10,000 games; Roger Dean Stadium, the Jupiter, Fla., home to the St. Louis Cardinals’ and Miami Marlins’ spring training and Class A Florida State League teams, lost 129 game dates; and new MiLB stadiums in Wichita, Kan., Louisville, Ky., Madison, Ala., Kannapolis, N.C., and Fredericksburg, Va., will each have to wait until 2021 to welcome their first fans — and to make progress on the construction’s debt service.

The revenue and lost game totals do not include non-sports loss projections at the venues.

More than 500 concerts scheduled for arenas and stadiums in 2020, representing 13.4 million potential spectators and nearly $1 billion in total projected revenue, have been canceled or postponed since mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an SBJ analysis of hundreds of sport venues and musical acts’ schedules and recent box office data from Pollstar. Fenway Park, Pepsi Center, Bridgestone Arena, Rogers Arena and Madison Square Garden were among the hardest hit, losing at least 10 major concert dates each.



* According to SBJ analysis of Team Marketing Report data and league sources 

** 2020 event (not a permanent tenant)

■ Projections of NBA, NHL, XFL, spring training, NBA G League and minor league hockey teams were made by multiplying each team’s most current season’s average per-game attendance by the number of dates remaining in their respective 2019-20 regular-season schedules.


 Projections for MLB were based on the number of actual dates per club scheduled through July 23 (the league’s proposed 2020 start date) compared to average attendance through the same date last season.

 Projections for the WNBA, NWSL, NLL, baseball, soccer and basketball minor leagues, as well as indoor football leagues were based on 2019 average attendance. MLS projections are based on the league’s announcement that it hopes to resume home-market games after its two-week “MLS Is Back” tournament wraps up Aug. 11.

 Projections for NCAA men’s and women’s national basketball and hockey tournaments are based on sellouts or publicly announced ticket sales for each venue. First-year franchises and/or clubs playing in a new venue were given credit for selling out each game affected by the delay, as opening seasons usually generate strong ticket sales.

 Projections were not made for events whose attendance is not tracked or publicly reported consistently such as marathons, motorsports races or pro golf and tennis tournaments.